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In the midst of it all.

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Edward Cullen being puzzled was not a common event, the last time he was truly puzzled being nearly fifteen years ago when he met his now wife, Bella , with her silent mind. She had been his sanctuary island when he had been drowning in a vast sea of internal chatter from all sides. Humans, vampires, the Quileute tribe a constant cacophony of snippets that didn’t quite fit together battling with his own internal voice to be heard.

 

But now suddenly everything was quiet.

 

Well quiet in his head.

 

In the kitchen he could Esme at the table working on her newest hobby of jewelry making, the delicate rattle of the beads and the soft hiss of twisting wire. In his office Edward could hear Carlisle flipping the pages of a thick medical tome and the quick scratch of a pen as he wrote down information he thought his colleagues might find helpful. Alice was whizzing away on the sewing machine to make yet more outfits for Renesmee while someone, likely Rosalie, flipped through channels faster than necessary. What really interested him was that out in the yard he hear Bella’s quiet wind-chime voice cutting though Emmett’s deep encouraging baritone, they were too far for distinct words but the anxiety in Bella’s voice was palpable.  

 

And yet for the first time since he was changed, he felt alone. A small ripple of fear ran through him, the same one he’d experienced when he first met Bella and couldn’t access her thoughts like everyone elses.Carlisle had said then that he’d never heard of a vampire losing their gift but they had also never heard of a human giving birth to a vampires child and that had happened too. Striding from the room Edward began to make his way down the stairs when like a radio turned off at top volume and then turned back on everything flooded back into him.

 

“ She needs to be careful with these ones, she’s too rough on her clothes. ..“ Dozens of images of my daughter in all her delight at new clothes flash across our minds and then they’re gone just as quickly.

 

“ It’s almost time to hunt.” Jasper no longer insatiable but as he sits at Alice’s feet with a book held open in his hands his boredom lets his mind wander.

 

“ I wonder if I can convince them to look into frequency therapy ..”  

 

“ Little suns, maybe more bronze around the edges..” I can see the massive array of beads laid out before her, a flash of a smiling face crosses her mind , the glint of the sun on ringlets settles her choice. They’re for Renesmee , still so spoiled even after all these years.

 

“Can’t they come up with a better plot than assault..” I don’t have to see Rosalie’s face to see her cold beauty, what mortals might picture a vengeful war Goddess Aphrodite to look like, her features twisted into a silent snarl. Her own trauma at the edge of her mind , though she was pushing it away . “ Mind your business .”

 

The snap to Rosalie’s voice was a sharp edge directed at Edward, guilt overwhelmed him as it always did when he unwillingly played the part of eavesdropper on private moments.

 

“ Bella’s got this, Edward, come in Edward. Do you read me?”

 

If vampires could get headaches Edward would certainly have one and Emmett cutting through the flood would be his only relief. It had felt like hours when there was silence but now the comfort of knowing the gift wasn’t gone was replaced by the annoyance of the noise. He started towards the door again muttering a soft apology to Rosalie as he yanked it open. It was easier out in the yard; Emmett’s excitement muddling his thoughts until all Edward could focus on was Bella, the rest of the world fading away into a quiet buzz.

 

The sea breeze pulled at her chocolate brown hair and she lazily swept it up off her neck in a motion left over from her human life where physical exertion would have left her sweating and out of breath. Still she looked tired, her shoulders slumped ever so slightly but she still smiled at him, her lips tilting to one side in some satisfaction he hadn’t quite puzzled out yet.

 

“Okay Bella , do you think you’re ready to do it again?” Emmett was taking great care to hide something which made Edward shift nervously. Emmett wasn’t usually one to hide his thoughts and to be frank even seemed to find joy in endlessly annoying Edward when given the opportunity.

 

“ I think I’m ready. “ There was a change in her stance as she drew her shoulders back and her eyes closed. There was furrowing of her brow and she seemed to be searching for something , we’re they seeing how far out her shield could go again? Several minutes passed and her form began to tremble as though under great exertion.

 

“Bella?” A tentative step towards her and then silence washed over Edwards world again, Bella’s golden eyes opening in triumph as he froze. The stream of Emmett’s internal excitement and the constant buzz of his family inside  vanished like a candle put off with the wind leaving only their physical motions and the sounds of tourists on the beach behind. In front of him Bella was bouncing from foot to foot as she waiting for his reaction.

 

“What is..how..you?”

 

“That’s new Bella, you managed to shut him up.”

 

Peals of laughter and the deep boom mixing brought Edward back to motion, sweeping Bella up into his arms and spinning with her before he placed a tender kiss on her lips.

 

“Yes, me.” She teased him but her smile reached her eyes and he felt himself laugh in response.

 

“I had no idea you could do that, how?”

“ How do I let you in or keep others out ? How did I stop Alec and Jane? I realised if I could push my shield out maybe I could wrap my shield around, share some of the privacy, it was hard to keep secret.”

 

“How did you know it would work?” He can’t smiling, for the first time in more than a century he is alone with his thoughts and his family has privacy to their own. He can hear them now behind him coming across the lawn, the whoops of laughter bringing back the flow of their thoughts as Bella looses her concentration.

 

“My son.” Esme’s thoughts are glowing as she takes in the look in his face, his arm around Bella who is looking at him as though he’s the sun. “ Oh my boy.”

 

“About time.” If a thought could be a snarky sniff Rosalie’s would be though its underscored by her thoughts of joy that he’ll be out of her head.

 

“ Well done, Bella.” Jasper’s quiet southern tinged voice crosses the space laced with pride. Memories of the hours of practice run across his mind and he turns to his family incredulously .

 

“All of you knew?”

 

“Bella wanted to surprise you!” Alice chirps giving him a hug and he shakes his head at her.” You have no idea how difficult it was to keep it away from you, Renesmee was the best way to distract you. “

 

A pang of disappointment dimed his joy, Renesmee had decided to go visit Charlie for the weekend, spending as much time with him as possible . They were set to visit him later in the week to pick her up and visit with Charlie and Sue as well. The regret must have shown because Bella was pulling away to face the drop to the beach off to the other side of the house.

 

“Okay , it worked ! You can come out now honey!”

 

Quick footsteps and a blur of pale skin and coppery hair slammed heavily into Edward as Renesmee joined their group. Her skin wash flushed from the early spring as she stared up into her fathers face , her cheeks flushed with joy.

 

“Did we get you? We wanted to surprise you!“ Behind her, much more slowly was Jacob approaching the group looking tired but no less enthusiastic. If she was happy he was happy even when being her cool Uncle Jake meant being dragged along on whatever shenanigans she decided to partake in. As she matured she needed less and less sleep but unfortunately for Jacob being able to phase didn't alleviate his need to sleep .

 

Shock is the only word to describe the expression on Edwards face as he stared down at his daughter and then to his wife which she met with a too casual shrug.

 

“It’s easier to keep up when I only focus on one or two people at a time but it’s getting easier to hold and easier to project out the longer I work at it. I think eventually… I could do it all the time. “

 

 His eyes pricked but all he could do was look up at the overcast sky and thank whatever God sent his Persephone to bring light and life back to him in the darkness with this gift of hers. That she should be so willing to share it with him and to share it without his asking . She stepped back into his embrace and as he held his wife and his daughter among the laughter of his family he felt a smoothness go over him blocking the wave of mental chatter and flashes of a hundred happy futures.  He took in being in the moment rather than being inside their heads and felt his world was changing yet again.